Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Cats?

No one likes fleas, ticks, bedbugs, ants, and other creepy biters that invade your home. If you have a cat or multiple cats, you’re likely to attract these nuisances. Perhaps you have tried to rid your home of these bugs with the latest bug killer, but you’re worried about the poison harming your cat.

Diatomaceous earth is an effective way to get rid of bugs without poison and could be the answer you’re looking for. Yes, the good news is diatomaceous earth is completely safe and even beneficial for most cats if used properly.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth (also known as DE) is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. A diatom’s skeleton is called silica. Over a long period of time, diatoms collect in a  body of water’s sediment, and when exposed to oxygen and water, they chemically react and become silicon dioxide.

The silica deposits are then mined from these sediments because of its natural defense against bed bugs, cockroaches, crickets, fleas, spiders, ticks, and other pests. Diatomaceous earth resembles a white powder and can be found at most pet and gardening stores.

Here’s how it works: Diatomaceous earth emits glasslike silica shards to cut through and dry out an insect’s exoskeleton. The microscopic glass edges are so tiny and harmless to anything bigger than a bug. DE does not emit noxious vapors or harm anything that it comes in contact with.

Diatomaceous Earth Grades

Diatomaceous earth is commercially sold in four grades. It’s important to know the differences, so you can know how each one is made. They are Pure Food Grade DE, Crawling Insect Control DE, Pool Grade DE, and other DE blends. The only one that is safe for cats is Food Grade DE.

Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Cats?

Yes, most of the time. Kittens, who are less than two pounds, should not be exposed to DE. DE can be used to kill fleas and other bugs both internally and externally, as a supplement in your cat’s food, and even in cat litter.

Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas on Cats

First of all,  make sure you use food grade DE for flea control. It’s an effective, all-natural pesticide against anything with an exoskeleton. Also, insects cannot build up a resistance to DE like they can a chemical pesticide, and it won’t lose its effectiveness over time.

All you do is sprinkle DE on your carpets, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else you may have fleas. Let it sit for three days and then vacuum it up. (Don’t worry; it won’t stain.)  You should repeat this process every week for 30 days to ensure that the eggs and larvae are destroyed, as well as the adult fleas.

If your cat already has fleas, you can apply DE to her coat. Put some on your palm and then rub your hands together. Then rub the powder onto your cat’s head, avoiding her nose, eyes, and mouth. Apply it behind her ears, and then down her neck to her chin. Massage the powder down her back, on her tail, legs, and belly. Fleas normally die within four hours of application, but don’t bathe your cat for 48-72 hours. After 72 hours, bathe your cat to get rid of the dead fleas, and use a flea comb to brush off any remaining fleas or eggs. You can repeat this process twice a week for a month to ensure that all the fleas are gone.

Diatomaceous Earth as a Supplement for your Cat

While DE is more commonly used for flea prevention, many cat owners add small amounts to their cat’s diet. There are numerous benefits here. DE contains calcium, magnesium, and other trace minerals that contribute to a healthier coat, improved appetite and metabolism, and better digestion. Also, DE can be given to your cat as a natural way to get rid of worms and internal parasites. Contact your veterinarian for recommendations and dosage information.

How Much Diatomaceous Earth for Cats

To supplement your cat’s diet, use only food grade DE, as other types are not safe for consumption. Your cat’s size will determine the DE dosage:

  • Small cats and kittens (2-6 ½ lbs.) should get ½ tsp of food grade DE
  • Full grown cats (7-13 lbs.) should get 1 tsp of food grade DE
  • Large cats (more than 13 lbs.) should get 1 ½ tsp of food grade DE

Do note that if kittens are still nursing, don’t add DE to their diet until they move to solid food. If your cat eats canned food, simply mix DE in with it. Dry food may be a little trickier, because cats may not eat it if there’s white powder covering their food. In this case, you could either mix the DE in with the dry food in a Ziplock bag and shake it up, or mix the DE with a quarter cup of water and then pour it over the cat’s dry food to coat it.

Diatomaceous Earth to Remove Cat Litter Odor

DE is also a great odor control for cat litter. In addition, it is more absorbent than clay-based litter. You can look for cat litter that already has it in there, or you can simply spread a thin layer of food grade DE to the bottom of the litter box before you pour in the litter. Your cat’s litter will stay fresher longer while decreasing odor.

Are There Any Risks with Using Diatomaceous Earth?

As long as you use food grade GE, there are no known risks in using it for cats. When applying it to her coat, use a minimal amount the first time and make sure you don’t get it in her eyes. Also, since it is so absorbent, it may irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs, but it is not harmful.

Conclusion

Diatomaceous earth has wonderful, beneficial uses for your cat’s overall health. Make sure you purchase food grade GE and use as directed.

David Fields is a long-time animal lover and has been blessed to share his life with many companions. A short list includes ragdoll cats, siberian husky and greyhound dogs, an African Grey parrot, many fish of all sorts, and a pandemonium of parakeet. He writes most of the articles on iPetCompanion and is regularly featured on other popular websites on the Internet.

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